Shawn Layden explains PlayStation’s decision to skip E3 2019

In a recent interview, the chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment Shawn Layden has further discussed the company’s decision to skip E3 2019. Citing the changing face of the video game business as being the driving force behind the controversial choice, Layden went on to question the relevance of E3 as it is now and how it could benefit PlayStation‘s audience in the future.

Layden discussed his thoughts in an interview with CNET during which the executive candidly discussed how PlayStation needs to adapt to a new age of marketing, distribution and online discourse. When asked about the decision to drop out of E3, Layden explained that the show no longer serves the purposes it used to due to shifts in the retail buying space and digital news sectors.

He also explained that hosting a trade event in June was not giving retail buyers enough time to organize for the holiday period; a process which is now being handled at Sony’s February event Destination PlayStation.

“So the trade show became a trade show without a lot of trade activity,” Layden said. “The world has changed, but E3 hasn’t necessarily changed with it.”

Layden also noted that the availability of the internet had forever altered the dynamic of games press coverage. An industry which was once built around a race to the cover story has irrecoverably shifted into a constant stream of information which is spread between hundreds of sites. This shift in content delivery to readers and viewers was on Sony’s mind too.

“And journalists now, with the internet and the fact that 24/7 there is game news, it’s lost its impact around that,” he said.

Sony’s decision to not attend the upcoming E3 trade show was first announced in November of last year. At the time it was attributed to PlayStation’s lack of first-party titles to showcase, the same reasoning used by the company to explain why there was no PSX event in 2018 either. Layden touches on this reasoning once more during the interview, stating that PlayStation’s decision to focus its development teams on bigger projects had caused longer wait times in between releases.

“We got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say,” he said. “And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectations ‘Oh, they’re going to tell us something.’”

PlayStation isn’t the first big developer or publisher to pull out of the E3 race; a potential warning sign that the show is losing its relevance and value to potential attendees. Layden says he hopes that through change E3 may regain its former glory, even if the show has to change to fit the times.

“Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don’t gather there to drop the new bomb?” he said. “Can’t it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?”

If Layden’s suggestions were to be followed, it would effectively transform E3 from a trade show into more of a fan-focused event like the globally held PAX celebrations or ComicCon. Last year’s E3 saw close to 70,000 people attend the event after the show first became open to the public in 2017.